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Gardens of Easton Lodge: Four open days in February for visitors to see annual display of snowdrops

The Gardens of Easton Lodge will be opening its gates for four open days in February for visitors to admire the annual display of snowdrops.

The Historic England grade II registered attraction at Little Easton, near Great Dunmow, will be open on two Sundays, February 12 and 19, and two Thursdays, 16 and 23.

Jill Goldsmith, a trustee and Bishop's Stortford resident, said: "Visitors love seeing the snowdrops at Easton Lodge. The snowdrops multiply from year to year and are everywhere: near the treehouse, in the Glade and in the walled kitchen garden.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997340)
The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997340)

"They are the first sign of spring and there are a few other early flowers too, such as the hellebores, the mahonia and, if you're lucky and get to see them before the deer eat them, the iris reticulata.

"In nice sunny weather visitors will see bees enjoying early forays for pollen and nectar, and spot or hear the tits and blackcaps flitting around or the treecreepers climbing the tree trunks.

"It's a chance to start thinking about the year to come and plans for the garden, and an opportunity to buy snowdrops in the green and the gardens’ snowdrop merchandise.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997188)
The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997188)

"Children love the treehouse, the elephant statue and the fun trail. Dogs on lead are welcome."

The open Sundays will feature stalls selling plants and bulbs, products by local beekeepers, woodturners and the Woodland Trust.

Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust volunteers will provide the usual fare of soup, bacon, cheese or hummus rolls, delicious home-made cakes, and hot and cold drinks.

On the two Sundays, the gardens will be open from 11am to 4pm (last entry 3pm). Tickets, which will be limited in numbers, can be bought in advance through the gardens’ website www.eastonlodge.co.ukor Facebook page. They cost £5.50 (plus booking fee) for adults, free entry for children under 16. Unsold tickets will be available on the gate at £6.50.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997184)
The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997184)

For the two Thursdays, the gardens will be open from 11am to 3pm (last entry 2pm). Visitors cannot visit the neighbouring garden of Warwick House, but there will still be lots of snowdrops to see and hot and cold drinks and home-made cakes. Again, tickets will be limited. Online they cost £4.50 (plus booking fee) for adults, free for under-16s. Unsold ones will be on the gate at £5.

Easton Lodge dates back to Tudor times. The gardens were refashioned by Edwardian designer Harold Peto in 1902 for their owner, the Countess of Warwick. The Countess, also known as Daisy, entertained guests regularly and lavishly, including the Prince of Wales, who was her lover for eight years in the 1890s before he acceded to the throne in 1901 as Edward VII.

The gardens fell into disrepair after their use by the US Army Air Force and RAF in the Second World War and are being restored and made open to the public by the preservation trust and its band of dedicated volunteers.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997352)
The Gardens of Easton Lodge (61997352)

They comprise Peto’s Italian garden centred around a large lily pond; a reconstruction of his treehouse in an old oak in the lime wood; formal and informal gardens, including the old croquet lawn; a historic walled kitchen garden; a small but expanding Japanese-style garden; and a wide variety of specimen trees, including nine regional champions.

The part of the historic gardens that belongs to Warwick House, which is the remains of the mansion that was Easton Lodge, is open to visitors on open Sundays.

To enquire about volunteering, hosting a talk about the gardens or arranging a private group tour, email enquiries@eastonlodge.co.uk or call 01371 876979 and leave a message.

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